QUESTION: What exactly is the teaching/doctrine of no-birth? I can only come at that through the idea that there is no-thing to be born ... only causes and conditions out of which a transient reality emerges.  And that reality is ultimately all of the causes and conditions: it is where the entire universe comes to focus, and not a "thing" which is born. Is that reasonably close to the teaching of no-birth, or am I far off? Namo Amida Bu

SHORT ANSWER: Dharma has no beginning.

LONG ANSWER: Well, all that about no things existing, only conditions, is probably well and fine, if a bit too abstruse for most folk. Everything is impermanent except something. That something is, in Buddhism, called nirvana. It was never born and it will never die. You could call it the Tao or the origin of God or whatever. It is that in which all mystics take refuge. When we hang on to impermanent things we are inevitably compromised and our soul is corrupted. But if we do not do so, in what shall we take refuge? In Udana 80, Buddha says, if there were no Unborn, no Unconditioned, no Deathless, there could be no liberation. There is no conceptual way of defining this. One can only hint. However, this is what all mystics of all religions turn to and rely upon.

I think that there has been a tendency to overlook the mystical truth of Buddhism and reframe it as a theory of quasi-physics or ontology. Buddhism is not really about the nature of being, it is about salvation. If I put my trust in the Unborn, then my life transcends the limitations of physical being and my manner of being in the world is in accord with the Buddha Way because it is not compromised. This teaching is the teaching of a higher loyalty.

Ideas about causes and conditions and all that are not meant to make one accept that there is nothing for it but to just be a product if conditions. They are meant to show us what a perilous position we are in. Causes and conditions are the flames of the burning house. Do not waste time.

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Running a Course in Korea and Elsewhere

Posted by David Brazier on August 3, 2018 at 1:40 2 Comments

I am currently leading courses on Buddhist psychology here in Seoul, Korea, but as I am putting the course onto this site as we go along, members of La Ville au Roi (Eleusis) are also responding so it is a bit as though the course is going on in several countries at the same time which is nice.

Varlam Shalamov

Posted by Geeta Chari on July 16, 2018 at 0:00 1 Comment

From The Paris Review:

For fifteen years the writer Varlam Shalamov was imprisoned in the Gulag for participating in “counter-revolutionary Trotskyist activities.” He endured six of those years enslaved in the gold mines of Kolyma, one of the coldest and most hostile places on earth. While he was awaiting sentencing, one of his short stories was…

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The Buddha, Season 1, Episode 1

Posted by Geeta Chari on June 29, 2018 at 9:21 1 Comment

I have been watching The Buddha on Netflix, and although I came well-prepared to scoff, there is a surprising amount of food for thought from a Pureland perspective. What follows is a review of the Pureland touches in the episode, coloured inevitably by my upbringing in India, although I have now lived in Britain for more than half my life.

The scene opens in the republic of Kapilavastu, depicted as a green and pleasant land, with the Himalayan mountains as a backdrop. (I was…

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Nembutsu Question

Posted by Dayamay Dunsby on April 20, 2018 at 8:22 1 Comment

I found this in a book that I'm reading. It has challenged my current "understanding" of the Nembutsu. I tend to think of the name itself as salvation and the bridge to the Pure Land...

"...Nembutsu is not a means to gain salvation but a reflection of it. Shinran acknowledges there is nembutsu without true entrusting because he lived in an environment where nembutsu was recited for benefits and merit. By itself it cannot produce true entrusting. Nevertheless, they are inseparable as…

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